The Fantasy King – Fantasy Redraft

Filed in Uncategorized by on July 5, 2013

By Mick 'the King' Adams

With the 2013 fantasy season now past the halfway point, we have a pretty clear look at the fantasy landscape as it currently stands. With that in mind, it’s time for a fantasy redraft. If we were able to draft again, what would be done differently? I know I’d make some changes to my strategy, and here they are:

1. Corey Parker

For two seasons now I’ve been bombastically declaring the demise of Parker’s fantasy domination. This preseason I was particularly confident that he would be overtaken, following an injury-plagued 2012 and the changes to the supercoach scoring system. These amendments, ostensibly designed to bridge the gap between the game’s elite and the top shelf fantasy  acquisitions, have claimed some sizeable scalps- Fensom, Heighington, Lewis and Thaiday are among the notable omissions on this list; countless other forwards have seen significant drops in average scores- but Parker has proved himself unsinkable, holding the second highest league-wide average.

If he has only the second highest average however, why is he number one? Well, when thinking about first round draft picks, one must consider not only what one gains by a selection, but what one misses out on by not drafting a particular player. At no other position in the league do we such a profound dropoff between number one and number two, with Parker averaging 8.39 points a game more than the 2nd ranked back rower Sonny Bill Williams. By the time you get to number five, Anthony Watmough, that gap becomes 13.93 points per game. Almost across the board the top back rowers have experienced a scoring dropoff, and only fifteen players eligible for selection at that position in fantasy are represented in the overall top 50.

With this in mind it’s not even close. The death of CP13 has been greatly exaggerated.

2. Robbie Farah

I have previously dedicated an entire column to my admiration for Farah, who is having a career year in Supercoach. With the game’s best average, Farah is ranked eighth in overall points despite being the only player in the top 50 to have played fewer than thirteen games. By this or any other measure it is ludicrous to see him on the board at the two spot and consider taking anybody else. 

3. Sonny Bill Williams

I know that Bulldogs fans are bound to disagree, and I’m not thrilled at the mercenary nature of his attitudes towards contract negotiations, but as a fan of rugby league I could not be more thrilled to see Williams back in the NRL. He is one of only two players in the game who possesses a unique talent not found in any other body, Greg Inglis of course being the other. I think we have an obligation as sports lovers to rise above our petty biases and expectations and just appreciate greatness when it is placed in front of us, as it so rarely is. And with Israel Folau increasingly likely to stay in union, it would be a sizeable blow were SBW also to jump ship.

With that being said, his average of 76.4 is only fourth best in the league, and is comparable with a number of players lower down, or entirely absent, from this list. Again, his lofty ranking on my draft board has as much to do with the other players available at the position as it does his pointscoring capability, with Paul Gallen (omitted from my first round draft board for reasons to be explained) and Parker the only other backrowers with elite fantasy averages. Furthermore, he ranks first among non-hooking forwards in both tries scored and tries assisted. SBW has that game-breaking, big play-making aura that every player would like to have. It is the reason he has already had some sensational fantasy scores and the reason more are on the cards. Due to his injury history and his lengthy absence from the game I was skittish about his fantasy chances at the beginning of the year, but he has removed all doubt.

4. Cameron Smith

Ah Cameron Smith. Just keeps doing what Cameron Smith does. It is in many ways unfair to compare modern day hookers to those of the past, given the nature of the position has changed dramatically since the days of hardheads such as Noel Kelly and Ken Kearney. But Smith is inarguably the greatest rake of the modern era.

In many ways I am loathe to place Smith so highly. As good a fantasy player as he’s been, we are now entering the portion of the season where his average drops off as the Melbourne, Queensland and Australian captain has his minutes and availability carefully controlled by Craig Bellamy. If my calculations are correct, Smith is now exactly a year older than he was on the corresponding date twelve months ago, so it is hard to see a change in Bellamy’s philosophy on player management with regards to Smith. Indeed he did not back up after Origin on the weekend. If there’s one thing you need from a first round draft pick, it is confidence in his abilities to play most weeks and play for eighty minutes (or at least get eighty minutes worth of fantasy points), and Smith has proven over the last couple of years that he has been unable to maintain his average during the origin period.

His average this year though has made it impossible to draft him lower than four, and indeed I wrestled long and hard over SBW and Smith for the three slot. Consider this: after round 16 in 2012 Smith had played 14 games at an average of 73.36. This season he has played 13 games at 84.15. We are tantalisingly close to clearing the origin hump and heading towards the fantasy finals, meaning Smith is in a strong position to maintain and even improve upon his average. Actually, I’ve talked myself into it- sorry SBW, you fall to four, Smith to three. Robbie Farah better watch out or he’ll suffer the same fate.

5. Andrew Fifita

6. Sam Burgess

7. Aaron Woods

8. Trent Merrin

The funny thing about the dearth of second row options at the top end of the draft board is that it’s a much deeper position than front row overall. Of the top fifty there are only 17 averaging below 50 points per game and none averaging below 45. For front rowers however, nineteen of the top 50 are sub-50 in average, with nine of those nineteen in the 40-45 range. Considering the preponderance of dual position players in the Supercoach format- and that the minimum number of players to be played at each position in a twelve team draft is 36- it is likely that the majority of those 100 players will be accounted for in each fantasy league. This means that depth becomes a big factor.

In the front row we see a sharp drop off once you get past the top seven (six of those are accounted for here, the seventh will be discussed shortly), which stretches from Sam Burgess at 72.92 to Ben Hannant at 66.58. There are some very handy options below him- Sam Thaiday, James Graham, Isaac Luke and Aidan Tolman et al.- but none I would be happy using a first round pick on. And so why there is a solid case to be mounted for using a high first round pick on one of the backline stars I’ll discuss shortly, for me the cost of missing out on owning one of these eight forwards  is too great.

The Gallen Issue

By far the most notable of all my first round omissions is the NSW captain, and indeed he has been scoring well when healthy. But he has only played nine games, and faces another extended stint away from the action. Gallen’s body is undeniably breaking down, and while he is still capable of performing at a high standard, I could not waste a first round pick on a player playing fewer and fewer games each year as injuries take their toll. If by some miracle he slid into the second round and was available to me at say, the 15th overall pick, it is definitely worth rolling the dice however.

9. John Sutton

Sutton is far and away the best option at 5/8. It helps that he is playing for the team currently setting the standard across the NRL, but he is having a sensational year. Presuming the draft goes in the order I have put it in, if I was picking 9th and had missed out on one of fantasy’s elite forwards, you’d have to say a player like Sutton is the next best option.

There remains a small caveat- there are 16 players available at 5/8 averaging over 50, within 20 points of Sutton’s season average. As such, the dropoff between having the best 5/8 in your squad and the 12th best is not nearly as severe as at other positions. As such, players like the aforementioned  second tier forwards must at least come into consideration in the late first round. However, consistency in your fantasy backline is the most elusive of dreams, so why not use a late first round pick on a half you know will get the job done. With the draft snaking back around you can always pick up someone like Nate Myles with your second pick, whereas the top halves will be gone.

10. Adam Reynolds

See John Sutton. Reynolds has proven his outstanding first year was no fluke, and indeed has improved upon it, a rarity for rookie phenoms in their second year. Reynolds is now at the top of the pile in terms of fantasy halfbacks, overtaking some stiff competition in Thurston and Cronk (the latter of whom has been well down in fantasy this year). He is the only halfback I would consider using a first round pick on, which is a damning indictment of Thurston, who I had as a top three pick to start the year. The pointscoring changes seem to have failed to address the power imbalance, and Thurston’s middling form has also contributed.

11. Matt Gillett

Purely based on his availability in the centre/wing position, Gillett, with an average of 67.93, is nonetheless good enough to be considered a first rounder even if he was only available at second row. Jamal Idris would have given me some headaches too if I had to consider his merits as a first rounder, but unfortunately for him (and NSW) a broken leg will keep the in-form Titan out of the action for near the rest of the year. A real shame that one.

12. Greg Inglis

When it comes to fantasy fullbacks, GI is in a class of his own now. Billy Slater still nips at his heels, but is no match, particularly as Inglis can also be drafted in the centres. The similarly fantasy-versatile Josh Dugan has actually out-averaged Inglis in his seven games this year, but as yet with Dugan the risk-reward ratio is weighted far too heavily towards the former. The fact that he considers the 22:30 incident an evidence of his maturity given he didn’t get into trouble speaks volumes about his lack of character. If he can continue to stay out of trouble mind you, next year, at the back of a considerably strengthened Dragons outfit, Dugan will come into strong consideration for first round selection. That’s a pretty massive at this stage of course. 


Comments are closed.